Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What Are We Changing at the SGM and Why?

What Are We Changing and Why?

The proposed Election Regulations and changes to the Constitution have been created in order to facilitate the changes that the PSA is aiming to achieve in terms of better representation for postgraduates by the PSA itself as well as through the Guild.

Election Regulations:

The proposed election regulations have been crafted based on Blackstone’s (The Law Faculty Society) election regulations, while incorporating what rules already existed in the Constitution. The election regulations have formalised the way in which nominees can promote themselves to the wider postgraduate committee (meaning no mean political campaigning or lecture bashing). They have also formalised an electronic version of in-absentee voting for external students, postgraduates that can’t make it to the main campus, or people that are unable to attend on the day of the AGM. The election regulations also state more clearly what the role of the returning officer is, and how the votes will be dealt with. All of these rules are intended to make our elections more transparent, fair and equitable for all postgraduate students - so that you can vote where ever you are, as all students can promote themselves equally before the election. Please go to our website here: http://www.psa.guild.uwa.edu.au/notices_for_postgrads to see a full version of the proposed election regulations.

By having a more transparent election process the Guild is more open to altering their Regulations to allow the PSA President to have a vote on Guild Council, and to participate in the Finance and Planning Committee.

The Constitution:

The changes to our constitution are in response to the wider changes in the University, as well as altering the PSA internally so that we are more equipped to represent all postgraduates. Some of the Constitution has been reformatted, the grammar fixed, sentences reworded to be simpler but to have the same meaning. As this was an ongoing project tracking changes, was tracking the changes on the changes, on the changes made to the Constitution. This overall made for a very messy document. In light of that the main changes have been highlighted in the documents.

The main changes to the constitution are as follows:

Additional Objects have been included- On the recommendation of the Guild’s Statutes Committee additional objects of the PSA have been included to position the PSA appropriately if we ever wish to apply for tax exemption status or to be considered a not for profit organisation.

The Calling of Annual General Meetings - Here we have included a mention of ‘relevant social media’ to include the advertisement of these events on Facebook, Twitter, the PSA Blog or any other media that arises in the future that the PSA will utilise.

Special General Meetings- We have also altered the amount of ordinary members required to request a Special General Meeting from 7 to 10 to be in line with the Guild Regulations. We have also included a minimum notice requirement for a Special General Meeting of 7 days as there previously was none.

The creation of a VP Coursework and VP Research- In our current Constitution we have one Vice-President- who can be either a Coursework or Research Postgraduate and the position of Coursework Officer. We have removed the position of Coursework Officer to combine this with a Vice-President Position, and created a research specific Vice-President. With the introduction of New Courses 2012, and the subsequent discussion at the 2012 AGM where it was decided that the PSA wanted to remain the peak body for both research and coursework students the PSA has restructured to have an equal focus on both Coursework and Research Postgraduates. Placing these positions within the executive of the PSA also highlights and ensures a strong focus on educational representation within the PSA.

Require the Treasurer to provide a monthly report to the Committee- The Committee should be aware of the ongoing finances of the PSA. Placing a requirement on the Treasurer places greater accountability on the Executive to how they are spending the PSA budget.

Added being an Editor of Postscript to the Secretary’s Portfolio- Currently only the Media Officer has to take responsibility for the creation of Postscript. We are required to produce Postscript as per the Service Level Agreement that the University has with the Guild.  Giving an Executive Committee member some responsibility over the creation of the Magazine will ensure that it is produced to a consistently high standard.

Creation of an Off-Campus Officer- There are many postgraduates at UWA who do not study on the main campus. Some of these students are external students, while others are situated in Centres and Schools that are located in Nedlands, Albany and other areas. At the moment there is no one person within the PSA that has a responsibility for ensuring that these students are represented by the PSA. By creating the Off-Campus Officer, these students will have a set point of contact and hopefully be better catered for in the future.

Creation of an Events Officer- The current responsibility for the organisation of events lies with the President or another committee volunteer. This position has been created In order to free up the President to focus on national, Guild and University educational and advocacy issues. The Events Officer would be in charge of ensuring the organisation, of events such as the Quiz Night, Family Day Picnic, the Cocktail Party and any other events that arise.

Changed the Name of the Indigenous Officer to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officer- NIPAAC, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association have stated that ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ is their preferred term of reference.

The Creation of an Executive Sub-Committee- Every year the PSA’s Executive has worked differently and had different relationships with each other. However, the Executive of the PSA is ultimately responsible for the finances and actions of the committee and for the success of the PSA in that particular year. To increase communication and co-operation of the Executive they are now considered a ‘Sub-Committee’ within the Constitution that is required to meet regularly.

Creation of the Awards and Grants Sub-Committee- The PSA gives out several different kinds of awards and grants over three rounds through-out the year. Each year the PSA has organised how they assess these awards, who is eligible, and their own ethical practices anew with the new committee. In order to make the practice in relation to the distribution of money as equitable, consistent, and transparent as possible, we have created this Sub-committee and some rules surrounding the practices of this Sub-committee.

Changes to Faculty Representatives- This year we have been trying to facilitate a greater level of co-operation and collaboration between PSA Faculty representatives, the Guild, and Faculty Societies so that they can work together on educational issues. The PSA is currently working with the Guild Statutes Committee to change the Guild regulations so that PSA Faculty representatives are full members of Education Council. At the moment changes are occurring so that they will be standing invitees in the meantime. Being a part of the Education Council will give PSA Faculty Representatives greater support on education issues.  These changes have occurred to reduce the burden of committee requirement on the Faculty Representatives so that they have more time to focus on their specialised role as education representatives.

Inviting Guild Councillors to PSA Committee Meeting- Again to further collaboration and communication between the Guild Council and the PSA Committee we have stated that any Guild Councillor who is a postgraduate can attend PSA Committee meetings as an ex-offico member.

Changed Quorum for a PSA Committee Meeting- We have changes quorum of a PSA Committee meeting from 5 Committee Members to 2 Members of the Executive and 3 other Committee Members. With the introduction of a second Vice-President there are now 5 Executive members of the PSA. This change has been made to ensure that general Committee members as well as the Executive must be present at PSA Committee Meetings.

Changes to how Finances can be drawn upon- Previously two members of the executive with one of them being either the President or the Treasurer had to sign off on invoices, receipts etc. This has resulted in the delay of payment of some invoices, due to the busy schedule of the executive. Now the President can sign off on invoices on their own. The Treasurer will still be aware of these transactions due to his monthly reports.

Election Requirements- The Constitution has been altered to referred to the now written Election Regulations.

Changes to the Constitution- Notice has been changes to be in line with the calling of an AGM or SGM. We have also added that the Constitution needs to be passed by a two thirds majority rather than a simple majority to make sure that the changes have adequate support. We have also altered objections so that 7 people must object during a notice period, as opposed to one so that it is in line with the number of Ordinary Members that can call a Special General Meeting.

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